Brownfield Redevelopment Authority

Brownfield Redevelopment Opportunities in Van Buren County Michigan


Pharmacy Building After Fire


Hometown Pharmacy

If you are interested in learning more or have questions about available funding opportunities, please contact the Van Buren County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority meets in the County Commission Chambers, 2nd Floor, County Administration and Land Services Building, 219 E. Paw Paw Street, Paw Paw, MI 49079. The Public is welcome; this meeting operates under the Open Meetings Act. 

For Meeting Agendas & Minutes, please click here.

To view our Brownfield Video Click Here      For Español Brownfield Click Here

Michigan Brownfield Program Overview

In Michigan, Brownfield sites can be found in cities with long histories of heavy industry and large-scale manufacturing activity and in small towns and rural communities. Brownfields are often defined as properties that are contaminated (referred to as "facilities"). However, Brownfields can also be blighted, functionally obsolete, or historic properties. Regardless of their classification, all Brownfield properties face economic impediments to reuse and redevelopment.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is the State of Michigan's economic development agency and through their Community Development Programs, offer guidance for local-government officials, prospective developers and businesses as they navigate through the Brownfield redevelopment process. Van Buren County has a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to support and offer local guidance (see below).

The incentives administered by the MEDC have led to increased private investment, job creation and the cleanup/improvement of the Brownfield conditions at many sites. These activities are completed throughout the state and in coordination with the Community Assistance Team (CAT), the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Brownfield and redevelopment programs, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 5 Brownfield Program.

Van Buren County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (VBCBRA)

In June of 2002, the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners established a County-wide Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to assist in the revitalization of contaminated properties throughout the county. The Authority is administered by the Van Buren County Land Services Department. Brownfield project funding is generally made possible through the use of incremental taxes generated by redevelopment projects approved in a Brownfield Plan. Periodically, other funding sources may be available to provided assistance. In 2016, the Authority was awarded a fourth Brownfield Assessment Grant that can be used to assess the environmental conditions on sites suspected of being impacted by petroleum products or hazardous substances.

Each source of funding has its own list of eligible activities. Nevertheless, funding assistance is generally provided for the following activities:

  • Phase I & II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs)
  • Soil, Soil Gas, Groundwater Sampling & Laboratory Analysis
  • Lead & Asbestos Surveys
  • Baseline Environmental Assessments (BEAs)
  • Documentation of Due Care Compliance 
  • Brownfield Plans
  • Act 381 Work Plans
  • Remediation & Cleanup Planning
  • Demolition
  • Due Care Response Activities

The Authority supports projects throughout Van Buren County that require financial assistance with assessing potential environmental roadblocks or concerns. Michigan's Brownfield Redevelopment programs are some of the best in the nation - providing communities and developers of Brownfields with:

  • Liability protection (for pre-existing environmental contamination)
  • Opportunities for reimbursement of environmental expenditures
  • Opportunities for low-cost loans
  • Reimbursement of eligible redevelopment activities including demolition and asbestos/lead abatement costs

Brownfield Project Examples 

Former Eaton Building

Former Eaton Building

Mr. Dan DeBoer requested support from the VBCBRA for the completion of due diligence and due care activities relative to the acquisition of the former Eaton Building located at 204 West St., Lawton, Michigan.  Mr. DeBoer is currently operating two businesses out of the site and intends to acquire the building in order to keep operations in Van Buren County.  A privately funded Phase I ESA and Phase II ESA resulted in the identification of environmental impact on the site attributable to historical manufacturing operations.  Based on the preliminary Phase II ESA findings the completion of additional assessment activities was warranted to support the acquisition of the site.

The VBCBRA authorized the use of U.S. EPA Hazardous Substances Assessment grant funds to complete supplemental Phase II ESA activities in order to further investigate the potential for unacceptable health exposures relative to the vapor intrusion/indoor air inhalation exposure pathway.  The VBCBRA additionally funded the preparation of a Baseline Environmental Assessment (BEA) and a Documentation of Due Care Compliance (DDCC) report on behalf of the purchaser in order to obtain an exemption to remedial liability for pre-existing conditions and to support a demonstration of compliance with due care obligations.

Former Cannery Building

Former Cannery Building

The building is a former cannery building that is severely blighted in the Village of Paw Paw. Located in an area of underutilized buildings and near the river and a proposed trailhead, the area is targeted for redevelopment. The property was found to be impacted by trichloroethene as a result of releases on an adjoining property. The MDEQ assisted the redevelopment project through the installation and sampling of sub-slab sampling points.  The soil vapors in one area of the building were found to exceed Nonresidential Screening Levels. The Van Buren County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority provided a loan under its local brownfield redevelopment fund (LBRF) to help fund environmental due diligence activities on behalf of the prospective purchaser – Black River Enterprises, LLC. The MDEQ provided a loan and a grant to assist with due care response activities (installation of a vapor intrusion mitigation system in the form of a sub-slab depressurizations system) and selective demolition to rehabilitate the blighted building. The Village of Paw Paw and Van Buren County approved a Brownfield Plan to use incremental taxes to reimburse the developer for certain eligible activities, including lead and asbestos abatement. The incremental taxes will also be used to repay the loans from the MDEQ and LSRRF that were used to pay for eligible activities.

For more information contact:

Lisa Phillips, Authority Vice Chair
Phone: (269) 624-4211
Email: [email protected]